Ms. Nicole M. Jenkins
Crowell & Moring LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
RE: The tariff classification of a Vehicle Stability Control Actuator Assembly from Japan
Dear Ms. Jenkins:
In your letter dated May 5, 2010 on behalf of Aisin Holdings of America, Inc. you requested a tariff classification ruling.
The Vehicle Stability Control Actuator Assembly (“VSC”)/part number 116040-30070 is designed to be used in vehicles to improve driving stability by detecting and minimizing skids. The actuator assembly is also known as an Electronic Stability Control or “ESC” The device works to stabilize the vehicle against any disturbances by measuring (either constantly or periodically) its actual value as to wheel speed, engine power and g-force. The VSC/ESC actuator’s hydraulic modulator regulates the pressure in the wheel breaks. In instances where sensors detect that the vehicle is skidding, the hydraulic modulator is directed by its incorporated electronic control unit (“ECU”) to reduce or raise the amount of pressure in a specific wheel and maintain that pressure at the chosen value until the vehicle regains stability. Coil-activated solenoids reduce the amount of pressure while an electric motor rotating a gear-pump raises the amount of pressure. The ECU is also designed to control the level of engine power to slow, accelerate or maintain a certain speed of the vehicle.
In your letter, you suggest classifying the actuator assembly in subheading 9032.90.6085, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Statistical suffix “85” used in your suggested classification does not exist in the current HTSUS. Subheading 9032.90.60, HTSUS, provides for other parts and accessories of automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. Regarding your proposed classification in HTSUS 9032.90, we do not agree that it performs the only function described in the definition of HTSUS 9032 in Note 7 to HTSUS Chapter 90. It receives information, i.e., measurements of “speed of each wheel, engine force, g-force” plus, perhaps, “steering angle,” from external sensors which are not part of the import, but its purpose is not to compare the measured factors to the desired level for each and to give the instructions to an independent actuator to bring them to and maintain them at that level, stabilized against disturbances as, for example, a thermostat compares the measured temperature in the room to the desired level set by the home owner and does or does not turn on a furnace in the basement to bring the house temperature to the desired level and maintain it there, despite variable cold winds, etc. Rather, your item, via the included hydraulic modulator, primarily changes “the level of brake fluid pressure to the brakes to maintain an optimal level necessary to activate braking power to individual wheels to maintain control of the vehicle.” As in Headquarters Ruling Letter 085281 AJS, 11-8-89, HTSUS 9032 does not include an item which gives instructions to optimize a function instead of to maintain a factor (or factors) at “a desired value.” We also note that your import, which weighs about 6 pounds, has a motor, a pump, solenoid valves, etc. to carry out the instructions of the ECU portion while HTSUS 9032 does not include imports which carry out its instructions, as in the exclusion of thermostatic steamers in Harmonized System Explanatory Note I-E to 9032.
The applicable subheading for the Vehicle Stability Control Actuator Assembly/part number 116040-30070 will be 8479.89.9899, HTSUS, which provides for Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; and parts thereof: Other machines and mechanical appliances: Other…Other…Other. The rate of duty will be 2.5% ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Patricia O’Donnell at (646) 733-3011.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division